Hello, it’s been a while…
I’m a bit rusty and out of practice with this blogging business, but I can’t keep putting it off. Which is what I have been doing because I always wanted the blog to make people smile, and I haven’t felt very smiley.
Tomorrow Bear turns 4, and a month today The Boy turns 1. Both massive milestones that I reckon need to be documented somewhere, because amidst the chaos of the last 12 months I am still standing. I have more grey hairs and I definitely drink more gin than ever before, but I am definitely still standing (or sitting on my backside with a glass of wine, but let’s not go into details).
A year ago today I was SO pregnant, massive, waddly and all sorts of moody. Little did I know that the proceeding four weeks were going to be the most normal me I would feel for quite some time. Because last September, things went a bit weird…
The small print
For all that I ever write on here, I caveat it with one simple thing; I know how lucky I am. I look at my healthy, happy children every single day and I can’t believe they’re ours, for keeps, forever. But being lucky doesn’t make you immune from having days where you descend into a dark fog and are clueless how to get out. The gremlins in my head weren’t picky about where they laid their hats.
After going to some dark places (and I don’t mean the cinema, although I did go there once), I got the help I needed for postnatal depression. It’s not fussy – it will set up camp anywhere, with anyone, even in someone who is generally happy, outgoing and who (I admit) didn’t believe she could ever feel so deflated, undetermined and defeated. I had everything I’d ever wanted – two perfect healthy children and a happy home. But suddenly I didn’t recognise myself. When I recall that time, it’s like talking about someone else. On good days, I showered. Other days were written off before I’d even got out of bed, the prospect of making it through a whole day seeming so overwhelmingly impossible. I didn’t know how I would get through the days, let alone the weeks and months and years that go into parenting. What had I done? Why was I so incapable, so unstable? Why couldn’t I just get off the ride?
Getting help was the biggest and most important step. I’m proud of myself for taking it. But while I saw glimmers of improvement, and we toasted consecutive days of no crying, fighting the battle and keeping it together for Bear and The Boy took its toll. All in all, I lost my sparkle.
Getting my sparkle back
Fast forward to now, and things are starting to seem a bit more sparkly. When people said I would feel like this again, I didn’t believe them. But they were right (they usually are). By no stretch of the imagination am I in any position to offer advice and guidance, but if you’re feeling how I felt, or still occasionally feel how I occasionally feel, those friends of yours that say it will get easier and that it’ll pass, they’re onto something. They make a lot of sense. In fact, I think they might actually be right, the clever little so-and-sos.
As I write all of this, I have one very excited little girl preparing for one more sleep as a 3 year old. She has been counting down to her birthday since February, and while being my little sidekick since her brother joined us has amazed us with her achievements, her character, her development of a new rulebook for I Spy, and the fact she has spoken more in the last 12 months than most people do in a decade. Despite my fogginess, she has had some definite highlights…
Bear: The Big Girl
Having moved into her Big Girl’s bedroom and just days away from becoming a Big Sister, our girl started Big School. Things are a bit different here in South Wales, with nursery classes often based within primary schools and taking children from 3. She is the youngest in the class, and she looked it too – she got her first school uniform in size 2-3 and I think that’ll fit her until she goes to Uni. Having spent all but 6 mornings (I kid you not) dropping her off to playgroup to tears and leg-clinging, she skipped into school like a pro. Despite massive changes, she just cracked on with it. That’s my girl.
She didn’t cry on her last day, but I did (I had also cried at the open evening earlier in the year, but at least I could blame that on pregnancy hormones). I want to adopt all of the lovely teachers that looked after, nurtured and cared for our girl as she started out on her journey in education. She regularly tells me that she wishes a certain Mrs S was her Mummy, and while that gets me right in the feels (*rolls eyes*), it’s the highest praise for those we’ve entrusted to look after our girl.
Bear: The Mermaid
She started swimming lessons. The last time I blogged, we had taken the children swimming – a trip that had NOT gone to plan. So after that roaring success, we did what any normal person would do – we signed her up for swimming lessons. After the initial complaints (standard stuff – the water was too wet, she missed me so much because of the window between me and the pool, her bottom kept eating her swimming costume*, and so on…) it turns out she loves swimming. And her ability to continue talking while swimming up and down makes me especially proud.
*That’s a wedgie, to you and me.
Bear: The compulsive I Spy cheater
Second to “are we nearly there yet?”, our most dreaded question on a long car journey these days is “can we play I Spy?”. Not because we don’t want to play, and not because we’re rubbish at it (we’re very good, actually), but because Bear’s rules make NO BLOODY SENSE. To illustrate my point…
Bear: “I Spy with my little eye something beginning with L”
I won’t bore you with the following 10 minutes of script. The answer was dinosaur. Obviously.
And even when she has half grasped the aim of the game, it doesn’t get any easier.
Bear: “I Spy with my little eye, something beginning with C.”
Me: “Give me a clue.”
Bear: “It’s something up Tiny Tumblers.” [Tiny Tumblers is our local soft play. It is nowhere to be seen from the southbound stretch of the M25].
Me: “Errr…right. Climbing frame?
Me: “Oh I don’t know.”
Bear: “It’s like Clare…?”
Me: [Baffled]. “Clare? Erm. Right. Do you mean Helen?”
Bear: “Yes! Helen! Well done, Mummy?”
Go figure. I can’t.
Bear: The performer
Never one to shy away from the stage (we have regular ‘shows’ in the lounge, which consist of Bear and her toy keyboard, a microphone and an onslaught of made-up songs), she was (type)cast as an angel in her first school Christmas concert. I spent hours making a beautiful dress (well, I say that – I drove to Asda and bought one then got stuck in traffic getting home) and she spent weeks performing all the songs to us, telling us how excited she was for us to come and see her. The big day arrived. Tensions and nerves were building, there was a sense of Christmassy excitement in the air as she went into class in her angel costume, ahead of her stage debut.
Sadly, in an unfortunate (but rather ironic) twist of fate, her halo broke before she got on the stage. Asda’s quality costumes weren’t stepping up to the mark, so neither was Bear. She just stood there, sucking her thumb (she has never sucked her thumb in her life), and didn’t sing a note. Not one single note.
Then came sports day. She was practicing that for weeks, too – staying in the lane, running really fast, going for a wee beforehand – general sports day stuff. What she couldn’t prepare for, though, was having an audience. The roar of the crowd was too much for our budding Olympian, whose emotions got the better of her after approximately 6 metres. She stopped. She cried. She got carried the rest of the way by her teacher. Let’s just say that Mo Farah’s legacy remains intact.
By the time her graduation ceremony (I know, she’s only 4) came around, she was like a fame-hungry X-Factor contestant, but with pigtails, a handmade mortarboard and flashing Clarks shoes. She strutted out on that stage, waved at us proudly and sang every word of every song as loud as her little lungs would allow. That, people, is when I might have had a(nother) little cry. Because I might not have been in the best place since she started school, but Bear undoubtedly has.
Bear, our little whirlwind, we can’t believe we will have a 4-year old tomorrow morning. Your personality and confidence amazes us, as does the amount of time it takes you to eat your meals. I feel sad sometimes that a part of me hasn’t always been present this last year, and there are chunks of your brother’s early days that my memory has weirdly (but sensibly) erased all by itself, leaving complete blanks. But hopefully one day you’ll understand how important it is for me to be a happy mummy for you both. And I hope this last year will eventually be just a blink in the grand scheme of all the years we have to come, where having a happy mummy is better than the one that lost her way.
We love you millions, our resident lunatic. Thank you for being our little piece of craziness right when we needed it. Happy birthday xxxx
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